How does social media impact the mental health of young people (is this impact always bad) and how can this later affect their lives?

Social media is highly present in our lives.  Youtube, Instagram and Snapchat are the most common social media used amongst teens. It is estimated that 63% of teenagers use social media every day and that around 45% of teens use social media ‘almost constantly’ (Pew Research Center, 2018). There is also the so-called ‘social media addiction’ which consists of the consistent checking of social media throughout the day. It is estimated that around 5% of teens have a social media addiction. It is also said that social media is potentially more addicting than alcohol and cigarettes. This addiction is caused because of two things: Firstly there is the instant gratification which is provided by likes and good comments; The second thing is a ‘hit’ of dopamine given also by things such as likes, followers, and nice comments.

Negative Impact

Using social media has negative impacts. 21% of teens feel insecure about their bodies after looking at social media, this is more common in women, people with large online peer networks, those who follow celebrities, and those who check social media very frequently. Neha Chaudhary, MD, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School says “Theen social media use has been thought to be correlated with depression, anxiety, worsening self-esteem, and loneliness.” Chaudhary also says that “Teens have been comparing themselves more to their peers and have been deprioritizing healthy, in-person communication.” Going back to the gratification, the lack of this can also lead to anxiety and loneliness because of the ‘lack of interest’ (lack of likes, followers, or comments) that people have towards the individual posting. The constant use of social media also leads to damage in sleep patterns and later on decrease in performance in school.

Positive Impact

However, it is also important to note that not everything about social media is negative. According to the Pew Study, 31% of teens say that the impact from social media is mostly positive, and only 24% say that the impact is mostly negative. For the remainder 45%, social media has neither a positive or negative impact. Some positive aspects from social media are personal content and self-esteem, sense of social connectivity and belonging, emotional expression and control, and identity and develop

What can we do to get a positive impact out of social media?

One of the most important things to do if one is in search for a positive impact out of social media is to control it. Controling your social media could mean multiple things: controling the people you are following –by following celebrities or models you might not feel the best about yourself– ; controling the amount of time on social media –it is important to not be constantly checking social media in order for one’s mental health to be better–; and lastly control what you post and who you allow to follow you –people you don’t know might comment negative things just because they get some fun out of it–.

Effect Later in Life

As we’ve already seen, social media can have some pretty negative but also some pretty positive effects on people. These can lead to affecting people’s lives later on (in a positive or negative). To begin there are the negative ways it can affect one’s life. Anxiety and depression are two of the worst impacts that you can get from social media use. Anxiety is something that many people already live with and it can get to extremes in which it is really unhealthy and affecting life to the point that it is hard to do many simple everyday tasks. Depression could end up leading to suicide in the end or the person can get to very bad states of mind and needs to seek therapeutic help which unluckily is not always an option for everybody. Some possible impacts however are a rise in self-esteem and confidence which could lead to better things such as trying to go further and trying your best because you are confident you can achieve that goal. It also leads to being comfortable with yourself and a happier person in general.


Case Study (original link here)

Insider – How Social Media Affects the Mental Health of Teenagers

outh, Media & Wellbeing Research Lab – Researches on Social Media

Centre for Mental Health – Impact of Social Media on Young People’s Mental Health

Social Media is Changing the Mindset of our Youth

Image (from social media is changing the mindset of our youth)

Share this project
  1. April 23, 2020 by Lola

    Great presentation!! I think all your points are very valid and most teens can relate to this issue. Your video in the beginning was a great intro video although I think you got cut off at the very end. I think your point about social media affecting teens in a negative way is very important and more people should be aware of this issue.

  2. April 25, 2020 by Caroline

    Hi Lara!
    Awesome presentation! It’s really cool to see the negative and positive impacts of social media on teens. Some people are hurt by social media, and it helps others. Do you think the creators of these apps and websites can do anything to help lessen the negative impact?

  3. April 25, 2020 by Peyton

    This is was an interesting project. Social media is such a big part of teens lives and notably has a big impact. I think it’s really interesting that people can control the negative effects of social media just by changing how they use it or by how much they use it but as shown many teens are addicted so this can be hard.

  4. April 26, 2020 by Sophia

    Hey Lara! I really like your presentation, and I think you did a really good job of providing important information. Like you, some of my friends have been negatively impacted by social media use, while others haven’t experienced a noticeable impact, so it was really interesting to read statistics about the average teens and the influence social media has on them. Do you think if someone were to completely stop using social media they would be able to reverse the impact eventually, or that the impact is lasting and irreversible?

  5. April 26, 2020 by Megan

    Hi Lara, great job with this presentation! I have been taking the Abnormal Psychology GOA, and we have had discussions about social media and its relationship with mental health. I really like how you mentioned that social media can both be positive and negative. I wonder if there could be classes or some sort of way for teens to learn how to use social media in a healthy way. I really liked your intro vid and the ratio between the text and pictures. It made it really easy to read and understand your content.

  6. April 26, 2020 by Nikhita Toleti

    Hey Lara!
    I love your presentation! This is such an interesting topic to be focused on and I really think that more people should be informed on it. I think that social media is a huge role in many adolescents lives, and it is important to know why it can be a negative factor. I think that there are so many different aspects to social media. It can be a really good thing if used properly, and can share positivity throughout the world. However, it not used properly, it can destroy lives and create a negative and toxic environment. I think that taking control is one good solution you put out there, but I wonder what else we can do. You presentation is very thought provoking!

  7. April 26, 2020 by helena

    Hi Laura I think you did a really great job diving into something that is potentially one of the most influential things in the teenager’s life. The media has such an influence whether it be propagating political ideologies personal beliefs and beauty standards. I think you did a really nice job addressing all of these things and understanding the mental health impact it has. I also really love how you provided a positive and negative side to the story as many adults tend to demonize social media without realizing the positive effects it has such as connectivity. I wonder if in your own personal experience you would say social media has had a positive or more overall negative effect on your life? Are there certain things that you look to social media for the tool?

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